Wine Reviews: Gundlach Bundschu & Peju

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 10-19-2019

This week, I’m back to California, focusing on one producer apiece from Sonoma and Napa.

Peju is a well-known name, and a hot spot for Napa wine tourists. This Rutherford estate, founded by Tony and Herta Peju in 1982, produces a wide range of wines (about 40). I tasted six wines (with wide national availability) from winemaker Sara Fowler.

I also tapped into some new wines from Sonoma stalwart Gundlach Bundschu (a.k.a., “Gun Bun”). This historic estate dates back to 1858, when Jacob Gundlach founded the Rhinefarm Vineyard.  I’ve been enjoying these wines for a long time, and I think Gun Bun wines can show a lot of quality for the price.

All of these wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

2018 Gundlach Bundschu Gewürztraminer Estate Vineyard - California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
SRP: $25
Pale lemon color. So juicy on the nose, with pineapple, lychee and lime, along with mint, orange flowers, verbena and rich honey. Plump texture, a waxy feel, yet vibrant acidity, which is great to see in a Gewurztraminer. This tastes dry (tiny hint of sugar), fresh, yet it’s so tropical and juicy. Pineapple, apricot, lychee and mango nectar, but the fruit is topped in spiced tea, honey, with chalk and minerals. Lovely stuff, a pure, lively California Gewurztraminer. 14.3% alcohol, aged in stainless steel and old oak. (90 points)

Gun Buns2017 Gundlach Bundschu Mountain Cuvée - California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Valley
SRP: $20
Vibrant purple color. Aromas of lush black cherries, red and black currants, juicy but fresh fruit topped in spicy pepper, tobacco and mint, cocoa and coffee. Full-bodied, velvety tannins, but medium acidity keeps it lively. Smooth, yummy but fresh fruit (blackberries, all sorts of currants), mixed well with notes of peppery spice, earth, cocoa and coffee. This has a lot of class, balance and a whole lot of deliciousness for such a reasonable price. Drink or hold for a few. Merlot with 7% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc, 7% Petit Verdot, 5% Malbec, aged eight months in 15% new French oak. (89 points)

2016 Gundlach Bundschu Cabernet Sauvignon - California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Valley
SRP: $55
Deep purple color. Concentrated aromas of dark currants, blackberries, along with smoky charcoal, graphite, mint chocolate chip, tobacco, vanilla. Built well on the palate, but the tannins are nice and smooth, and moderate acidity. Black currants and blackberry, deep but crunchy fruit, laced with fallen leaves, graphite, mint, mocha and vanilla notes. Round but fresh, structured but opens nicely with just a bit of air. This is already showing lots of nuance and smoothness, but could benefit from a few years as well. Includes 8% combined of Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec, the wine is aged 18 months in 45% new French oak. (89 points)

2016 Gundlach Bundschu Merlot - California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Valley
SRP: $35
Medium purple color. Nose boasts juicy black cherries and deep currants, topped in roasted coffee, vanilla, mint, and a cool mix of black pepper and red pepper flakes. Full but smooth on the palate with moderate acidity, this is fun, fresh, and tangy, but shows plenty of depth, and solid complexity. Tart red and black currants and blueberries, juicy and suave, with notes of tobacco, mint and mocha. Fun now but could develop well over the next few years easily. Includes 9% Petit Verdot and 9% Cabernet Sauvignon, aged 17 months in 40% new French oak. (89 points)

Peju2018 Peju Province Winery Sauvignon Blanc - California, Napa Valley
SRP: $25
Pale lemon color. On the nose, a burst of kiwi, white peach, with honeysuckle, saline, mint and oregano elements. Brisk acidity frames the wine so nicely on the palate, but there’s a lot of juicy texture, with sweet white peach, topped in kiwi and lime. Notes of white tea, saline, fresh white flowers, mountain stream minerals, adding a lot of complexity and a mouthwatering feel. Pure, vibrant and pretty Napa Sauvignon Blanc. All SB, all stainless steel. (90 points)

2016 Peju Province Winery Merlot - California, Napa Valley
SRP: $48
Light purple color. Nose of sweet red currants, fig past, blueberry jam, along with violets, clove, sweet eucalyptus and vanilla. Plush texture on the palate, soft tannins, with medium-low acidity. Accessible and fruit-forward, with sweet black cherry, roasted plums and figs. Lots of coffee, vanilla, sweet cocoa and sweet pipe tobacco. A juicy, jammy, velvety style to drink in the near term. Includes 4% Cabernet Sauvignon and 1% Petit Sirah, aged 18 months. (87 points)

2015 Peju Province Winery Cabernet Sauvignon - California, Napa Valley
SRP: $60
Light purple color. Deep nose of black currants, sweet blueberry, with roasted chestnut, cocoa powder, mint and scorched earth notes. On the palate, this is a big wine, but it holds itself well, with round tannins and fresh acidity. Tangy black cherries, juicy currants, roasted fig, the fruit is complemented by eucalyptus, leather, earth, cocoa, subtle vanilla. Expressive and integrated already, but this should do well with three or four years. Includes 8% Petit Verdot and 7% Merlot, aged 18 months in 45% new French and American oak. (90 points)

2013 Peju Province Winery Cabernet Franc Petit Trois - California, Napa Valley
SRP: $75
Rich purple color. Gorgeous nose. Waves of red and black currants and plums, rich and saucy but vibrant fruit, topped in lots of menthol, black pepper, mushroom, cocoa and vanilla. Full-bodied and suave with velvety tannins, this is a rich and juicy wine (highly delicious), but also shows some medium acidity. The depth of the cherry and currant fruit is impressive. Ditto for the complex sage, methol, cigar shop, pepper and earth. Cocoa, coffee and cedar woven in well. This has aged nicely, but I’d be curious what this does with another 3-5 years of cellar time. 100% Cabernet Franc. (92 points)

2015 Peju Province Winery The Farm - California, Napa Valley
SRP: $80
Medium purple color. Aromas of juicy red and black cherries, with violets, rose petals, some savory spice, leather, dark chocolate. Full-bodied, velvety, suave and vibrant on the palate, this is expressive and vibrant with juicy black cherries and dark currants. Complex elements of violets, pipe tobacco, scorched earth, and notes of cocoa, vanilla and clove. This could benefit from three or four years in the cellar, but a very pretty blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Sangiovese. (91 points)

2017 Peju Province Winery Cabernet Sauvignon The Experiment - California, Napa Valley
SRP: $100
Saucy purple color. Nose shows sweet blueberries, black cherries, with earth, roasted chestnut, leather, clove and mint chocolate chip. Velvety, jammy presence on the palate with a chewy, medium-low acidity kind of feel. Saucy blueberries and black cherries, topped in earth, violets and graphite. There are a lot of intense oak signatures in here (espresso, cocoa, dark chocolate, sweet vanilla), so be aware of that going into this wine. Perhaps time in the cellar will help it integrate. That said, the underlying fruit is yummy and there are other solid elements as well.  All Cabernet aged 16 months in all new French, American and Hungarian oak. (87 points)

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